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New 'Game of Thrones' beer makes debut, offers 'complex' flavor

Jim Galligan

The "Game of Thrones"-inspired brew Iron Throne has made its debut after much buzz over the last few months.

Daylights savings time may have just sprung us ahead, but winter is coming.

Well, at least it is on the upcoming season of HBO’s medieval fantasy “Game of Thrones,” and with it comes Iron Throne blonde ale, the first in a series of beers crafted in a partnership between HBO and Brewery Ommegang. The brew made its debut at a launch event at SXSW Friday.

“Iron Throne was named as a nod to the blonde Lannister family currently occupying the throne,” Allison Capozza, who manages publicity for the Cooperstown, N.Y., brewery told TODAY.com.

This 6.5 percent alcohol-by-volume Belgian blonde ale is a brewed with grains of paradise and lemon peel.  It pours a hazy amber with a fluffy white head, and its nose is a grassy bouquet of fruity Belgian esters and zesty lemon. 

A sip reveals a brew that’s as complex as the wrangling for the Iron Throne itself, with peppery hop bitterness, an earthy Belgian funk and bright citrus from the lemon all battling for your attention, while a sweet thread of honeyed caramel keeps it all from spiraling into anarchy. 

Like the show it honors, this first beer in the collaboration is intricate and nuanced, but made to be enjoyed by the masses.

“We wanted to start with something that was accessible and very drinkable for viewers of the show that may not be familiar with our beers,” Capozza said.

It’s hard to imagine another brewery being such a natural fit for creating a series of “Game of Thrones”-inspired beers.  Ommegang brews its beers in the age-old Belgian tradition – every sip is like a little journey back to a time when life was hard, beer was flavorful and white walkers may or may not have been lurking in the woods.  The brewery itself could be a set piece for the show – it looks like a Belgian estate from a bygone era that was dropped into the rolling hills of Upstate New York.

Apparently the powers that be over at HBO felt the same way.

“HBO approached us last year,” Capozza said. “The show's producers are fans of Ommegang and thought we'd be a good fit for this collaboration.”

A total of four “Game of Thrones” beers are slated to be released, the next coming in the fall of this year, and the others to follow after that.

The collaboration was announced in mid-December and immediately buzzed through social media and the craft beer world.

The brew should be available in the 43 states where Ommegang beers are sold by the end of March (sorry Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming). 

Stores that carry Ommegang can be found by using this handy beer locator, and you can stay up to date with “Game of Thrones” beer distribution and events by visiting Ommegang’s Facebook page.

No word yet as to what the other beers in the series might be named, but we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below. Anyone up for a Westeros Wee Heavy in Tyrion Lannister’s honor?

Jim Galligan is co-founder of the Beer and Whiskey Brothers blog, where he and his brother Don cover the ever-evolving world of craft beer and distilled spirits. Follow him on Twitter.  

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